Depending on how you count it, this is either our 8th cycling vacation to Tucson or our tenth time riding in Arizona. The extra two times where when we first came in 2003.  That year we did a week of Spring training with a coach and then returned in the fall for GABA’s Grand Canyon to Nogalas cross state tour. I’m telling you this because you may notice this post has a scarcity of photos since we’ve been to all these places before. You can read about any of our previous Arizona trips. This time we flew into Tucson instead of Phoenix and later rented a car to drive up to Phoenix to attend an appreciation dinner for the PPMI study I’m in. We stayed for an overnight visit with our friend’s Gail & Tom. We rode a total of 380 miles over 11 days. The Loop Map at the top has all the places we rode highlighted in orange! Reminder that clicking on any photo will enlarge it.

February 24
We stayed at Stone Curves Cohousing the first week then moved over to stay at Sonora Cohousing where we usually stay. Spencer got Tess rebuilt without any major challenges. We set off for a short shakedown cruise to pickup food supplies. We stopped 3 times for adjustments and anticipate smooth sailing going forward. Due to last Fall’s battery saga  we chose to leave the battery at home this time!

This mural on the The Chuck Huckelberry Loop Trail is new since last trip and so gorgeous. You can see that it’s on two different walls. So when you cross the arroyo you can see the images align in different spots as you move along. The planning to create this must’ve been massive.

February 25
Our second day in Tucson: Two Zoom meetings bracketing our ride. We were planning on a 30 miler, but we cut it short. Why? It turns out the docs found Spencer had an atrial flutter when they did his pre-op physical for the cochlear implant surgery scheduled right after we return to Seattle. We’ve been searching for a smart watch with a HR monitor built in. Sheila found a guy in Tucson with one for sale. He called to arrange a purchase while we were on the bike, so we shortened the ride. Still had time to see the javelina riding the front of a tandem. Sheila quickly hopped on to help her out. The watch seems pretty good for $20! We’ll see what it can tell us about my heart. Not worried, just adjusting to the 71 yo body.

February 29
Today was our first full fledged ride of the season out to Catalina State Park. First there was our shakedown cruise and then two days off for Phoenix trip. Then we had to move from one cohousing to the other. And – oh yeah…there was that huge thunderstorm! But we’re happy to be back in the saddle together. As you can see the skies are now clear and should remain sunny. We did 40 miles and ran into two pairs of tandems on the Loop trail. Apparently there are more and more of us here.

March 1
Another beautiful day in the neighborhood. Today we got a lazy start and headed south on the Treat Bikeway. After doing a lot of relatively flat riding it was time to try some climbing, unassisted. We’d chosen to leave the battery at home. So we climbed Sentinel Peak better known as A-Mountain. Yesterday’s ride was roughly 40 miles with 880 ft of gain as a gradual all-day accumulation. Today’s was the same distance with 1100 ft of gain. But about half was gained in this single 1.5 mile climb with 6-8% grades most of the way up. After the descent we stopped at Mercado’s Beaut Burger for a vegan soft serve! Their burgers are also vegan but we had miles to go. We really missed our friend Susan today as she first introduced us to Beaut Burger. She was a great riding partner but has left Tucson.

March 2
After two 40 mile days we took yesterday off. Instead we took a long walk to the vegan Lovin’ Spoonfuls restaurant for lunch. When we came back Sheila worked this wooden Liberty puzzle while Spencer completed Laurie Frankel’s new book Family Family. We both love her writing and this one is no exception. Saw many murals on our walk. It’s amazing to me that none of them have been marred by graffiti. I wonder why that is. In Seattle they seem to all get graffiti at some point which makes me sad.

March 3
Today we rode 38 miles to Agua Caliente on roads and a little bit of the Loop trail. This park is an oasis. We’ve been many times but have never walked it until today. These two kind women were just taking a rest with their dog and offered to watch Tess. On the trail back we saw this horse sculpture. Then we took the photo of the sign that suggests saying PASSING instead of the conventional “on your left”. It’s much more effective as it’s shorter AND no one is confused about their left and right. Oh, and Spencer got stung on his tongue while we were riding! YIKES. Fortunately he’s not allergic.

March 4
Today we headed out to Saguaro East National Park. We didn’t take photos there, having been several times. It’s gorgeous and has a very fun, hilly 8 mile loop, much like a rollercoaster ride. We chatted with another tandem couple from Houston who knew the original owner of Tess2. It seems like everywhere we go we find interesting tandem folks to visit with. The mural art in Tucson is plentiful and most remarkably not marred with graffiti. This lovely one was on the way home. By the time we got back, we’d doubled our daily elevation record, and put in 48 miles.

March 5
We rode out to St. Xavier Mission, a 37 mile RT. We’ve been there many times over the years. But we have no photos of us together. AND I wanted to show off the new daBrim visor attached to my helmet. It provides both sun and rain protection.

March 6
Today we saw signs warning of vipers, wet roads, and freezing bridges….but we didn’t see any of those things! We rode 46 miles under cloudy skies. We wore socks and wind jackets all day. It was about 70 degrees but a lot of wind. Not many photos. I called for a stop on the bike trail to take a shot of the public art. Spencer requested the public art on the other side! Our turn around point was right across from Catalina State Park where the Oro Valley welcome sign was located. From there home was a fast, long, downhill run.

March 8
We took yesterday off the bike as our bodies needed a rest and the forecast was for thundershowers all afternoon. We walked to the stores for food supplies and hunkered down during the afternoon showers.

This morning when we woke up it was pouring rain and cold. We didn’t want to get out from under the covers. We managed to head out at 12:30 for a 25 mile ride to Sabino Canyon with mostly sunshine but still cold winds. We dug out the long sleeves and tights for today. As you can see in the images we skirted the dark clouds and rain and managed to only get a few drops of rain on us! Pretty amazing. We only have two more days of riding before the bike gets taken apart on Monday for packing.

March 9
Today was sunny and pleasant though not hot. We set out to climb Gates Pass on this the penultimate day of our trip. We rode 38 miles and climbed 1520 ft. This photo was taken at the informational pull out about a mile from the summit when one needs a bit of a break. Road traffic wasn’t too bad at all. And coming down we fortunately had no one in front of us or behind us. Top speed was 35MPH.

March 10
Spencer always does our route planning. Today is our last day riding in Tucson and we’ve pretty much covered all the usual suspects. He asked me where I wanted to go. “Let’s go see that Labyrinth we missed and I want a photo of the cool painted house we never stop for… and let’s pick up tickets for Cabrini for tonight.” So he made a little 30 mile route that tied that all together, some on the Loop and some on streets. We even stopped for treats at Whole Foods. Couldn’t find a bakery anywhere! A lovely day all around despite ferocious headwinds for the first 12 miles.

March 11
You know how we love puzzles. Check out this one Spencer has just completed… taking apart Tess and fitting her into two suitcases again for tomorrow’s flight. Just amazing. He’ll rebuilt it on Wednesday so it doesn’t sit in the boxes a long time. We walked over to Mod Pizza for lunch. It’s the hottest day since we’ve been here, 78 degrees. I’d been seeing these license plates and couldn’t figure out the connection between the clouds and Arizona. I finally saw one up close and it’s for electric & hybrid cars to promote clean air! Pretty cool.